The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait (Haunted Bookshop Mystery)
by Cleo Coyle
About The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait
The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait (Haunted Bookshop Mystery)
7th in Series
Setting – Rhode Island
Publisher: Berkley (May 4, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Digital ASIN: B08274WCLM
Bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure and her gumshoe ghost team up to solve the stunning mystery at the heart of a madwoman’s self-portrait in this all new installment from New York Times bestselling author Cleo Coyle.
While gathering a collection of vintage book cover paintings for a special event in her quaint Rhode Island bookshop, Penelope discovers a spooky portrait of a beautiful woman, one who supposedly went mad, according to town gossip. Seymour, the local mailman, falls in love with the haunting image and buys the picture, refusing to part with it, even as fatal accidents befall those around it. Is the canvas cursed? Or is something more sinister at work?
For answers, Pen turns to an otherworldly source: Jack Shepard, PI. Back in the 1940s, Jack cracked a case of a killer cover artist, and (to Pen’s relief) his spirit is willing to help her solve this mystery, even if he and his license did expire decades ago.
Penelope Thornton-McClure and her Aunt Sadie are getting their bookshop, Buy the Book, ready for a big event. A book signing with the authors of a new book featuring Pulp Fiction covers from the past. As a bonus for the event, a local collector of the vintage covers is lending the shop some of his collection. Pen and her friends Seymour and Professor J. Brainert Parker travel to pick up the artwork. When they arrive Seymour becomes enamored with a portrait of a young Harriet McClure who just happens to have been related to Pen’s late husband. The painting is said to be cursed but that doesn’t stop Seymour from buying it. Strange events start to happen shortly after the purchase but are shaken off as coincidence. Then the previous owner is found dead and the ghostly private eye Jack Shepard tells Pen he has a history with one of the pieces of art and he offers to help her solve the current case.
If you love old movies you are going to love this story. Even the current mystery had an old-timey feel due to the theme of vintage cover art. As soon as we meet Walt Waverly and enter his “sprawling Tudor home” and his library where he displays “a lot of” his art I felt we stepped back in time. The author describes everything in detail even the doorknobs “covered with a patina of green from age and neglect” and the “pristine condition” of his rare books and the Nathan Brock cover painting from 1948 that even got Jack’s attention. The words put the readers right there on the scene observing each and every moment. I was captivated by the entire experience.
Then with the P.I.’s mysterious way we actually travel back in time to tackle one of his old cases that was linked to that Nathan Brock cover. Again I was intrigued by the whole process and how those experiences helped Pen solve the current mystery. The way Pen and Jack communicate is very interesting but eerie too.
The story sheds a light on corruption in publishing and scams. Authors and artists are both affected. While this was not a new concept to me I felt educated by what happened to a couple of characters in this story. The old adage, “if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is” definitely applies.
I absolutely loved the ending. Yes, the killer was revealed but so much more happens to bring things full circle. I can’t say more, you need to read the book yourself.
The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait is an exciting addition to this great series. I am looking forward to the next adventure with Pen and her ghost gumshoe detective.
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About Cleo Coyle
CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the long-running Coffeehouse Mysteries—now celebrating eighteen years in print. They are also authors of the nationally bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, previously written under the pseudonym Alice Kimberly. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also both bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”